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A near perfect 2018 growing season resulted in a large crop of very high-quality fruit across all three varieties.
A very cold and wet late winter period gave way to an exceptionally warm and dry spring. With such a distinct change of seasons, bud burst happened very quickly and evenly. Although temperatures dropped to near freezing on the evening of 1st May, the threat of spring frosts this year was low and the vineyard made it through this nail-biting period unscathed.
Hot and dry weather prevailed through the rest of spring and early summer, and flowering of the vines occurred under perfect conditions in mid-June. By this point grapevine phenological stages were proceeding 2-3 weeks ahead of the average and canopy growth continued at a colossal rate. Dry periods were interspersed with small amounts of rain, and combined with soil water reserves accumulated during the winter months, the vines always had a sufficient supply of water. The 1500 new vines planted in May had to be watered on a couple of occasions to ensure root development wasn’t affected.
The first signs of veraison were seen on August 7th, three weeks earlier than usual. Higher rates of precipitation and cooler temperatures in August and early September slowed down the ripening process but also resulted in bunches swelling due to increased water availability. Harvest of the Crawthorne Vineyard Pinot noir began on 27th September, a day earlier than the 2017 harvest and around two weeks earlier than an average year. Picking continued under dry and often sunny conditions for the next couple of weeks and was completed on 11th October with perfectly ripe Chardonnay.
The quantity and quality of fruit received in to the winery over the 2018 harvest was simply astonishing. In addition to the existing capacity extra barrels and two small tanks were purchased so that no fruit had to be sold. This increase in barrel capacity was also required to ensure that the proportion of wine fermented in barrel (30%) to stainless steel (70%) remained similar to previous years and that the ‘house style’ wasn’t compromised.
All of the wines this year received very little intervention, with only small sugar and sulphur dioxide additions and everything fermenting with native yeasts.